Every week, construction workers die from lung diseases caused by exposure to dust. Yearly, more than 3,500 builders die from cancers related to their work, with thousands of cases of ill-health reported and millions of working days lost. The health risks of dust are often overlooked but dust is a silent and sometimes invisible threat that can take years to show visible damage… and then it can be too late.
From October 4th, 2021, the Health and Safety Executive will be targeting construction firms to check that their health standards are up to scratch during a month-long inspection initiative. Failure to pass the inspection could lead to heavy consequences.
What is the new HSE initiative?
As a national regulator dedicated to improving the workplace health and safety of construction workers in the UK, this year’s HSE inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease. Inspectors will assess the control measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from construction dust including silica, asbestos and wood dust.
This initiative is part of HSE’s long-term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry. The health initiative is being supported by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) – a group that helps unify the industry in its approach to worker health protection and the promotion, adoption and implementation of best practice processes and initiatives.
The initiative will also be supported by HSE’s WorkRight campaign. This campaign will aim to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice. Knowledge is a key way of building awareness and should improve workers’ capability to take responsibility for their own health and speak out against bad practices.
What will HSE inspectors be looking for?
HSE inspectors will be assessing sites and looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, using the right controls/PPE and planning their work to minimise potential issues. If required, inspectors will use enforcement to secure people’s safety and protection.
What can you do to improve conditions on your site?
HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right protective equipment.”
Employers have a legal responsibility to protect the health of their workers and SHOULD take measures to implement best practice safety precautions on all construction sites. Alongside respiratory PPE, specialist tools, machinery and equipment can be utilised to keep workers safe during work tasks to prevent dust inhalation.
V-TUF can help protect your business, site and workers
When assessing how to reduce the risk of dust, it’s important to assess what tasks cause the most dust. By analysing this, V-TUF has reactively and diligently created functional products with the intention of protecting workers against respiratory risks on building sites. Examples of high dust level tasks include using power tools to cut, grind, drill or prepare a surface; sanding taped plasterboard joints; and dry sweeping.
So how can V-TUF products help reduce the risk?
Health V-TUF Vacuums
It is very important to use a rated vacuum cleaner. This ensures the safe collection, capture and dispose of harmful dust. Unrated vacuum cleaners can make the problem worse by exhausting large amounts of respirable dust, once it has bypassed the filtration system and motor. This dust goes back into the breathing space of the operator and can remain airborne for up to 8 hours.
In combination with H/M-Class vacuums, V-TUF dustless cleaning head tools significantly reduce dust when cleaning sites. Traditional sweeping generates huge amounts of hazardous dust but the design of the dustless cleaning heads extracts even the finest dust and will keep sites clean and workers much safer.
The V-TUF POD is a 20 mm core drill shroud tool designed for dust-free drilling. When used with an M-Class-rated V-TUF dust extractor, V-TUF POD sucks to the wall and extracts the dust. This leaves your hands free to operate the drill, whilst the V-TUF POD extracts all the dust and debris and RCS (Respirable Crystalline Silica) before it becomes airborne. We suggest you use the VTM208 drill shroud in conjunction with the MINI, MIDI, MIGHTY, STACKVAC and RUCKVAC-iON.
The COBRA dust extraction paint scraper accessory connects to your rated extraction vacuum hose and provides built-in extraction through the handle. With an ergonomically grooved grip and curved pushdown pad on top of the accessory, comfort, HEALTH and speed will no longer be an issue during woodwork restoration. Not only does the COBRA reduce the presence of dust and lead contaminants, but it will save you time and money on every job.
It is estimated that over 40% of new cancer registrations/deaths are construction workers. Don’t allow your workforce to become part of the statistic and fall victim to a silent and sometimes invisible killer, ensure your site stays on the right side of the HSE’s inspections. The V-TUF team have made it our mission to protect those in the industry with the right tools to work with health and precision. Choose workplace safety. Choose V-TUF.
Airborne particulates as vectors for pathogens
Prior to COVID-19, the emphasis was always on the particulate matter itself and the effect it has on long-term health conditions.
Controlling airborne particulates is now even more important because these studies show that dust can be contaminated and quickly lead to serious health hazards and even death.
See below a collection of interesting research on this topic.